Dre Campbell Farm
Rabbit Farming (Cuniculture)

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Rabbit Farming (Cuniculture): Raising Rabbits for Meat

If you’re interested in the idea of commercial rabbit farming or cuniculture, then we’re here to help you out.

For many people, rabbits are small, quiet, docile pets they give to their children to teach them responsibility. However, for others, they are an invaluable food source that’s relatively easy to raise and breed [1].

The business is sustainable enough that once a method is in place, it’s not likely to fail. But first, you need to know what you’re doing.

Benefits of Raising Rabbits

Rabbit livestock is very low maintenance. They don’t need a ton of space to be happy, they’re very quiet and won’t make a lot of noise, and they can be surprisingly charming.

Even if you get into the process of rabbit raising intending to gain a self-sustaining food source, you might be surprised at how attached you become to some bunnies.

Some farmers even enter them into contests. They’re a great first-time pet for children because of their easy care and lack of need for constant attention.

Females produce fairly large litters at a time and can breed a few times a year.

They also grow extremely quickly at little cost, and their meat is very tasty and nutritious without any religious taboos. Along with the meat, you can also use their manure for fertilizer.

Honestly, if you can handle the idea of raising them for meat, they’re a very inexpensive investment to start off.

Breeds

You’re spoiled for choice when choosing what breeds to focus on. There are a ton of different options [2].

  • Continental giant
  • Dark Grays
  • Netherland dwarf
  • Fox
  • Lionhead
  • Dutch
  • Mini Rex
  • New Zealand’s (both white and black varieties)
  • New Zealand Red
  • Californian
  • Belgium white
  • Flemish giant
  • English lop
  • Chinchilla
  • Holland lop
  • Beveren
  • American fuzzy

These are all popular rabbit breeds for their productivity and relative ease in raising. The Polish are also popular, though they’re mainly for show purposes or as domestic bunny rabbits.

The only problem you’re likely to run into once you’ve made your decision is where to find the type you want. Some are easier to find in certain regions than others, so if you’re set on a certain kind, prepare to spend a little extra getting it.

Production

You have a couple of methods available to you.

There is the Deep Litter Method, which is best for small populations. This method requires a concrete floor and a 4-5 inch deep litter husk lined with straw, hay, or wood shavings.

Deep litter will produce and support up to 30 bunnies comfortably, with the two sexes separated from one another.

Keep in mind that with this method, you have a higher chance of disease spreading through the family.

The second is the Cage Method, which, just as it sounds, keeps them separately in cages versus the free-roaming hutch.

This is optimal for raising larger numbers commercially.

1. Feeding

Rabbit growing is inexpensive when it comes to feeding. The type of food will vary depending on their age and breed.

Adults require 17-18% crude protein in their diet, 14% fiber, 7% minerals, and a whopping 2700 calories of metabolic energy.

This can all be found in green, leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, carrot, parsnip, cucumber, green grass (an excellent excuse to let them run around and play outside), and vegetables scraps.

Ensure they have a generous and clean source of fresh water and you are good to go. Rabbits are not only inexpensive to acquire and keep, but they’re easy to feed as well.

2. Breeding

Time to let bunnies do what bunnies do best — make more bunnies.

At around 5-6 months, they become mature enough for reproduction. However, do not put them together until the males are at least one year old, to ensure quality stock.

This may go without saying, but if you have a sick one, don’t breed it. Give extra care to those intended for breeding. Once pregnant, they will gestate for anywhere from 28-31 days.

The females, called does, will deliver anywhere from 2-8 kids at a time.

3. The Best Rabbits for Meat

If you’re into it strictly for meat, then you have several options to choose from.

You’ll want a breed that is on the larger side and produces lean, muscular meat and gives birth to larger litters.

With this in mind, the New Zealands, Californians, and Champagne d’Argents are good choices, particularly if you’re just starting out.

They’re very muscular and will be ready to butcher at about eight weeks old.

Many doctors recommend white meat over others due to its lean nature, making it good for people with heart conditions.

It has a similar texture and taste to chicken, so it’s relatively easy to prepare as well.

4. Killing Methods

This is the big one, the one every first-timer probably dreads.

If you’ve ever had rabbit meat, how did it taste? Was it sweet and tender, sort of like chicken?

Well, if it was, then you can rest easy that the rabbit died peacefully and humanely, without its instinctive fear responses.

There are three potential ways of killing them, but most recommend the first one:

The Broomstick:

Place the rabbit on the ground, in front of its favorite treat to distract it. Next, place a broomstick handle across its neck.

As you step on the other side of the handle to hold it in place, grab the hind legs and stand up straight as you’re pulling upwards at a ninety-degree angle.

This will create a sort of stretching, giving a sensation as you feel the bones of the neck detach.

The rabbit will enter its death throes. This means that the brain has been instantly cut off from the body, preventing all essential functions.

The broomstick is our favorite method because the animal will only feel maybe a half-second of it, if anything. It won’t have time to feel afraid.

The Arterial Bleed:

AB isn’t highly recommended on the basis that it doesn’t kill immediately.

Still, if you do it right, the Coney shouldn’t feel anything more than a sudden, heavy drowsy sensation before going to sleep.

As before, place it in front of a treat to distract it. Slice quickly through the jugular veins.

Within a minute, it will be dead and ready for hanging and draining.

Fatal Blow:

This one is only recommended for those who know precisely what they’re doing. It’s humane, like the other three, but it has to be done carefully and correctly so as not to cause any suffering.

Hold the Coney by its hind feet so the ears form a perfect V shape. Strike sharply and fast directly behind the V shape on the back of the head.

If done correctly, the fatal blow should have the same effect as the broomstick method.

Whatever your killing method, you can take comfort in the fact that they die far more humanely than in the wild. There, they are often still alive and terrified as they are torn apart by predators.

Also, whatever method you choose, ensure that you drain out the blood properly before you prepare to eat.

Utilizing Rabbit Manure

This stuff is a great organic fertilizer. It is highly rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — the essential building blocks of any successful garden.

Rabbit manure is also a dry and odorless substance, so it’s easy to collect and distribute without a huge mess.

The pellets will collect together in the bottom of the hutch, so gathering them is a breeze. Plus, you’ll get a ton of them from your rabbit farm. These small animals are great little poopers.

Takeaway

Ultimately, with the great demand for white meat, having a commercial rabbit farm is an increasingly promising opportunity.

Aside from the relative ease in caring for them, their meat is extremely nutritious and quite tasty.

If you’re looking to start your own business, the white meat market might be the ticket for you.

Image via commons.wikimedia

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

1 comment

  • My family raised rabbits for meat when we lived in Mexico. We grew up very poor so it was nice having good food for cheap.

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